Day three of the one word title challenge brings me to company. They say that misery loves company, and misery is what a lot of authors who think they are signing up with a self publishing company get. It all comes down to language usage and expectations. Personally, I think calling a subsidy publishing business a self publishing company is misleading. As I wrote in yesterday's post, if you don't own the ISBN block, you aren't self publishing at all, you are paying some company to publish a book for you.

That little rant about truth in labeling aside, the real problem most authors have with these companies isn't a question of get branded as a vanity author or the quick and dirty production process, it's the business model. The business model is selling you their services, not selling books. If you like going out on tour junkets where smiling natives do tribal dances at dinner and you think they're smiling because they're happy to see you, then it could be the ideal way for you to publish a book. Don't laugh. I've known some very intelligent people who don't know the difference between doing business and being the business. For a so-called self publishing company, you are the business.

Why does the pay-for-play model in publishing rarely turn into a commercial success for the author? It's because the subsidy publisher doesn't have anything to offer, aside from the quick and painless path into print. You won't get rejection letters, you'll get asked for your credit card number. If all you want is a book to give your spouse on your next anniversary, it's definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, a subsidy publisher isn't going to work to sell your book for you. It would be stupid for them to try, it's not their business. It's also not their business to tell you that a book isn't commercially viable and shouldn't be published.

If you want to start your own self publishing company, it's not much more expensive than a subsidy deal, but it's a lot more work. If you want to earn significant money through self publishing, setting up your own publishing company is really the only choice, but it's not just about keeping all of the net profit rather than accepting a royalty. It's about understanding that it's going to be a lot of work, that there aren't any shortcuts, and that the book business is all about marketing.

I have a secret to share, one that I'm in a position to know only because I have a couple hundred articles about publishing on the web and have a very good statistics package. A lot of those articles are about book marketing and how to sell books, and you know what? They are some of the least popular articles I've written. The popular articles are the ones about starting a publishing company, writing a book, choosing a printer, etc. All those initial bits are fun, but the hard work is making it into a living. If you're willing to invest the time and the effort, then start your own publishing company and keep what you earn.

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